UPDATED: RSU 13 vice-chairman stormed into superintendent's officeSuperintendent: 'I truly felt threatened'
Rockland — Superintendent Lew Collins filed a complaint to the school board about Vice Chairman Loren Andrews storming into his office in October, according to documents submitted to The Courier-Gazette.
According to the school board chairman, Andrews was there to demand the superintendent's resignation.
The documents were submitted via an anonymous mailing, but were confirmed as valid by both Collins and Andrews Jan. 13.
"Today, a board member, Loren Andrews, walked into my office while I was in my monthly meeting with a principal," Collins wrote Oct. 16. "My administrative assistant, Jenn Colby, was also with me taking notes of this meeting. Loren was obviously very agitated and demanded that I meet with him right now. His face was red and he was shaking his fist, pointing at me. I told him I was in a private meeting and yet he insisted that we talk that instant. I asked the principal to wait for me while I spoke with Loren and asked my assistant to stay and take notes. Loren did not agree to that and I told him I would not meet alone with him. I told him that Tess (Kilgour, board chairman) would need to join us and I needed to call the board attorney as well. Loren was in such an emotionally charged state that I truly felt threatened by his demeanor. I asked him to leave my office."
Collins went on to quote a rule stating that school board members have no authority when acting as individuals.
"A board member cannot disrupt the business of the district and certainly should not be rude and threatening toward a superintendent by barging into their office while he/she is in a meeting," Collins wrote. "This kind of behavior is inappropriate in so many ways. Your board attorney will advise you on this when you meet. I still don't know what Loren came to speak to me about today."
Kilgour said she also ran into Andrews that day at the district's central office in Rockland. She said he was demanding that Collins resign immediately. She also described Andrews as agitated and said she was uncomfortable.
Andrews apologized for the incident in an email Oct. 16 to Collins.
"You're absolutely right," he said. "I had no right to walk into your office today, and I sincerely apologize for my behavior. I should not have done that, and I am very sorry that you found my behavior alarming. And that I made your staff feel uncomfortable. I will apologize to them later. However, my intended discussion with you remains, and let me know if you would like to schedule a meeting."
Andrews said he went to the superintendent when he realized Collins had lost the trust and confidence of his staff. The board member said he wanted to ask what had happened and how they could get it back.
"I just should have waited my turn," he said.
Around the time of this incident in October, it was reported that staff in the district had responded to a survey saying they had low morale and felt uncomfortable speaking out.
This information was sent to the newspaper on the heels of the Jan. 9 school board meeting in which some school board members asked Andrews if he would resign from the board.
Andrews said in a phone interview Jan. 13 that in mid-December he had talked to a few of the board members and said if it would help for him and Kilgour to resign from the board, he would be willing to do that.
Kilgour announced last month that she would step down as chairman of the board in March.
Andrews said at the meeting it was an idea that was brought forth and was not part of the agreement. He said after asking around, the feedback he heard was it was not necessary. He said he intends to be a candidate for chairman in March.
Courier-Gazette News Director Daniel Dunkle can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 122 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Daniel Dunkle is editor of The Courier-Gazette and news director for Courier Publications. He lives in Rockland with his wife, Christine, who also works for Courier Publications, and two children.
Dunkle has previously served as editor of The Republican Journal in Belfast. He has worked as a reporter and photographer in the Midcoast since 1998.